Tong’s running for Senate to help people like his opponent

Today’s five-way Democratic U.S. Senate debate at the University of Connecticut was by the book. Unlike Thursday’s face-off, nobody shouted “whore” in the crowded UCONN theater.

What I found most interesting was state Rep. William Tong’s, D-Stamford co-opting opponent Matthew Oakes’ personal story as part of his own narrative.



If Tong is the underdog (his words) in the battle between U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and ex-Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz for their party’s nomination, Oakes of East Hartford and Greenwich’s Lee Whitnum are the under-underdogs.

Oakes’ pitch is he is the best suited to represent Connecticut in Washington D.C. because he can relate to average folks and their problems. In 2003 he was mugged and continues to walk with a cane. He’s gay. And he’s poor, living with his mother and trying to keep their home.

But today at UCONN it was Tong, not Oakes, telling Oakes’ story, which struck me as nice, odd and calculating all at the same time.

“During our debate Thursday Matt Oakes spoke about his mom and their fight to save his home,” Tong told the audience. “I thought that was the most important moment in that debate. He spoke with courage and compassion and he had the courage to tell us the truth. He reminded us why we’re all in this race (and) why I’m running for U.S. Senate.”

Brian Lockhart